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UEFA Europa League

  • April 19, 2012
  • • 20:05
  • • Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
  • Referee: C. Thomson
  • • Attendance: 24000
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Atletico Madrid 4-2 Valencia: Falcao and Adrian run riot but Costa's injury-time strike gives Unai Emery's side hope in return

In the first leg of the Europa League semi-final tie, the hosts dominated throughout but suffered a late goal that gives life to the visitors, who showed little over 90 minutes

Atletico Madrid have one foot into the final of the Europa League after dominating and beating Valencia 4-2 in their semi-final first leg at Vicente Calderon, and in the process became the first team to win 10 straight games in the Europa League/Uefa Cup.

Three second half goals gave Atleti a commanding position after the visitors drew level late in the first half, but a late header from Ricard Costa handed Los Che a precious second away goal, and makes the return match at Mestalla a less daunting task.

In the first 10 minutes, the home side had little trouble invading the visiting box, firing two dangerous efforts at Diego Alves, who stopped both Diego and Adrian Lopez with fine saves.

Seven minutes later, however, Alves couldn't continue his heroics. Radamel Falcao found the net with a simple header from close range after Adil Rami could not stop Arda Turan, who beat the France defender at the bye-line with his pace. His ball across hit Jordi Alba before finding the head of the Colombian, who finished with ease.

With the match appearing to head into the break at 1-0, Valencia struck somewhat against the run of play. From a corner Rami made contact, heading the ball down to the far post, where Jonas pounced to tap it in, sending the away fans into a frenzy.

The home support would get their chance to celebrate again, however, as their side enjoyed a superb start to the second half.

In the 48th minute, poor defending saw a free kick from Diego find Miranda inside the heart of the box, where the Brazilian headed past Alves with a simple header.

It took just six minutes for Atleti's third. Adrian took the ball from Mehmet Topal, flew past Victor Ruiz at the edge of the area before firing into the left side of the net, bagging his seventh goal of the competition.

The game was getting away from Valencia at this stage, and Atletico almost registered their fourth with 25 minutes remaining.

Adrian fired a powerful effort from outside the box that was saved low by Alves, with Turan hitting the rebound on goal, but Alves was again there to stop the effort and prevent the visitors from more embarrassment.

But Atletico Madrid eventually grabbed goal number four on 77 minutes after a fine solo effort from Falcao. The former Porto man dribbled past Ruiz and Jeremy Mathieu at the corner of the box, before cutting inside and drilling the ball into the upper-right corner.

Yet Atletico were to be deflated due to the concession of a late goal. In injury time Ricardo Costa headed home a late cross inside the box in added time, and put a different complexion on the second leg next week.

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